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Changed my heart

María, a young woman from Teruel


T hat night the moon seemed to take pity on me once more, I was receiving the last gift of that magnificent trip, the star, in its total fullness, illuminated the sober facade of La Recoleta allowing me to contemplate Peruvian architecture for the last time.


At that dawn the cattails seemed to me majestic works of art caressed by the clarity of the moon, how different it was the first time my eyes rested on them! But also! How different my heart was when I arrived in Peru! The country and its people, like La Recoleta, were the same, it was I who had changed.

I arrived loaded with suitcases, perfectly dressed and coordinated. My white pearl earrings highlighted my beach tan and a slight scent of vanilla shed my shiny hair with my every move.

They say the mission is tough. Perhaps the permanent cold that penetrated my bones, the huge Jurassic mosquitoes, the cubazo showers or the fights with rats for the food in your kitchen are not entirely captivating situations, but like any adventure they are necessary to spice up the trip. This mission has agitated, altered and rattled my now happy heart: when a permanent smile unconsciously sprouts on your face you know that you are happy.

How is it possible that a small town hidden in the mountains of Peru has given me so much? They call themselves "humble" and perhaps materially they are, but the kindness and affection they have given me could not even be compared to their highest peak.!

I went to preach the word of Jesus, but I was the one who saw Jesus in them because He is in the poor and the simple, in the children. When a little girl with burnt cheeks, brown eyes and an innocent smile embraced me for the first time there I did not know how to react, the first seconds were astonished.

Why was he doing it if he had barely exchanged words with her the day before? Out of courtesy I hugged her back and she clung to me even more. It was then when I felt it: the total and disinterested surrender of love, I had not done anything for that girl, but Jeny wrapped me with her thin arms and her huge heart. !

I knew perfectly well that I was going on a mission, but "sooner dead than simple." My "princess" airs did not last long,

La Recoleta, that church in Cajamarca, which at the time seemed poor to me, would be the most magnificent thing I would see in the next two months. Immediately they mounted me with my monumental suitcases of colored phosphors in the back of a truck heading to an unknown town in the Peruvian mountains, and I say unknown not because the people of that Cajamarca region did not even know it, but because it was not on Google Maps! !

What do you want me to tell you? That climb in the basin of the SUV to the small town called Morán Lirio was the first gift I received on that trip. Surrounded by barefoot people with large palm straw hats, ponchos, children hanging on their backs and at some point the occasional sheep, I would grab the man in front of me for fear of falling. The wind was so cold and hit so hard that the least I cared about at that moment was my perfect ironed hair, but I don't want to deceive you, neither did the freezing wind worry me, nor did the smell of cow, the landscape before me opaque everything else. A huge tertiary fault broke the sallow landscape showing the magnificence of its internal rock. At 3500m, skimming the boldest clouds, it was hard to breathe; Perhaps it was the lack of oxygen, but I attribute it to the contrasting and meticulous colors that had been marbled by The Creator in those mountains: the plum of the atmosphere was opposed, and at the same time, it married perfectly, with the glittering green of the pastures where cows and sheep enjoyed their delicacy.

Nothing mattered at that moment more than the vertigo and the feeling of freedom that that SUV, the breeze, the people and the landscape were giving me. The best of all? That this moment was surpassed by others even more exciting and special. !


It was difficult for me to get used to that feeling because it was not only her, but all the children of Morán were gradually approaching me throughout the days with the same or similar displays of affection. It's not that I grew up in a loveless family precisely, but in our busy lives, in our developed Europe, we seem to have a hard time dealing with the daily externalization of love.

Why relegate these beautiful gestures for special occasions? Why not learn from these children in whom for them the special occasion is precisely being with you? Sometimes, while I was quietly listening at mass, a small hand would sneak into my poncho and hold my hand while resting its head on me, others would snuggle into my lap and fall asleep. Looking at the sober cross on the altar, I couldn't help but thank him for the love that the Lord was giving me through the people there. How easy it was to feel loved, loved and valuable !!


That night in La Recoleta, waiting for the taxi, the church was not lit with the artificial light of the streetlights as it used to be, but Morán Lirio was not either, that small town was lit by the kindness of its people; Like the moonlight, they shone in a natural way, with a pure and simple love far from the artificiality sometimes seen in Europe. !

Closing the door of the taxi broke my heart and a small hint of tears appeared in my throat. I didn't want to go. How to come back after all that my heart had learned? How to pay the OMI, those nuns so hard-core who know how to accompany each young person from their particularity, from serenity, respect and joy, the opportunity to have let me live all this? !

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